Editor’s Note: NJ Wedding Photographer Vanessa Joy recently interviewed Australian-born Portrait and Wedding Photographer Jerry Ghionis about the state of photography in today’s world and turning taking pictures from passion into profit.
Jerry is coming to a city near you in his first ever photography tour of 33 North American cities. Dare Dreamer Mag readers get $10 off registration at www.HowtoWowTour.com with the code HTWDD.
Why do you think photography has become such a popular art form in the past 5 years?
There was a mystery to photography when I started with the use of medium format cameras, tripods, film, processing. It was an enigma to the average non-photographer. Over the years, as it has become easier and easier for people to own good quality cameras and with everyone owning a camera on their phone, the mystery has somewhat faded. It isn’t as expensive for people to now take up photography as a hobby or experiment with it. It used to be very expensive between the equipment, the film, the processing and so you had to invest quite a bit of money just to “play.” But now with very affordable cameras that are of great quality and the ability to take thousands of images without spending anything to see them, it has become much easier for people to explore photography as an art. I now find myself working harder than ever to explain to potential clients the difference between well crafted professional photographs with the service they receive from a professional and what they receive from the average person who just happens to be holding a camera. An analogy I often enjoy using is that if everyone owned a microphone, it wouldn’t make everyone a great singer.
Why should consumers continue to value photography?
Long after the flowers have died, the last dance, after the cake has been eaten, the only thing that remains is your photography. It’s a legacy that you pass down to future generations.
What’s one piece of advise you can give photographers moving from part to full time?
Success in wedding photography and especially in performing on the wedding day is more about your communication skills and your listening skills and knowing how to read people. That will go a long way in making you a great photographer rather than focusing on how technically brilliant you are. The ability to have an endearing and attractive personality and the ability to work under pressure while still being technically proficient is especially important. You almost need to be like a chameleon. In the sense that you need to know how to be relaxed and more down to earth at a casual wedding and at the same time be able to carry yourself professionally when you’re at a high society wedding.
I also believe that assisting at weddings is the best training for any photographer. At the very first wedding that I assisted, I probably learned more than in all of the time I spent in school. And that was because I was getting on the job, real world training. At that first wedding I was taught about the direction of light, how to use flash, interacting with clients, working under pressure, working under time constraints. I literally just carried bags and assisted a photographer for a year and half with no pay while I was working at a camera store selling cameras. I did all of that just so I could be involved in the industry. And that’s because when you’re photographing a wedding, you’re actually shooting much more than that. You’re shooting a wedding, portraits and fashion, you’re shooting photojournalistically, shooting product (all the details that you need to document), landscape, etc. So you’re photographing in all these different genres and under time constraints, weather constraints, different cultures and dealing with different personalities, so I truly believe that a really good wedding photographer can pretty much shoot in any genre.
Artistically, don’t be safe or stay in your comfort zone by going to “pose number 23 in location number 37”. Comfort zones have never been synonymous with artistic expression. I encourage new photographers to be as passionate about their business as they are about their photography.
Consider yourself a businessperson first who happens to be a photographer. As a business owner ask yourself, “Am I working in my business or on my business?” Surround yourself with great people – your studio is only four walls without good staff. Stop being a control freak and get some help. Educate yourself. Seminar and workshops can literally change your life. After all, knowledge is power. Don’t be too precious about the work.
When it comes to marketing your new business, you should work on marketing that costs you nothing by first asking your clients and vendors for referrals and maximizing relationships with people who can help you. Also, try a same day slide show at the reception. It’s the best direct marketing you will ever do and you can also charge good money for it. If you are going to invest in advertising, don’t think about the advertising dollars you are parting with and think instead about the return. Whenever an advertising opportunity presents itself ask yourself, “Is there a better way I can spend this money?”
One of my favorite mantras has always been that I don’t focus on being the best; I just focus on being better than last week. I believe this is one of the keys to being successful and consistently creating beautiful images. By doing that, you become the best that you can be – you realize your own potential.
And finally, don’t forget to consider yourself a brand. Build it and they will come.
Where is your favorite online place to go to be inspired photographically?
I’ll be honest, I don’t really visit any photography websites or blogs for inspiration. What I do frequent regularly and get inspired by is different high fashion magazines, and I especially love viewing music videos and movies for inspiration.
Vanessa Joy started her photographic career in 1998, her own business in 2008, and began teaching in 2009. She has spoken at major platforms such as creativeLIVE, WPPI, ShutterFest, Imaging USA, and locations around the globe. Recognized for her talent and more so her business sense, peers love to learn from her informative teaching style.